By Asma’u Ahmad
The Federal Government on Wednesday 11th October charged women and girls’ right’s advocates in the country to take campaigns against violation of girls rights to the rural areas. The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, gave the task at the 2017 International Day of the Girl Child organized by Plan International, Nigeria, in Abuja. Newsmen reported that the United Nations in 2012, set aside Oct. 11 as the International Day of the Girl.
The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfilment of their human rights. Represented by Dr Christopher Ugboko, Head of Gender, Adolescent/School and Elderly Division in the ministry, Adewole said that most discriminations and violations of girl child’s rights were done in the rural communities.
“As I speak to you, the case of female genital mutilation is still perpetuated in the villages and many girls and women had gone through such terrible experience….the practice is still on in so many communities in the name of culture. I am urging individuals and those working with non-governmental organizations to go to the villages and educate the rural dwellers against discrimination of girl child.”
“I challenge our advocates and scholars to go to rural communities and do a research on their experiences and such should be presented to the policy makers…..our girls have special needs and the discrimination against them occurs in all spheres of life. Some girls are discriminated against by parents by not allowing them to go to school while they favour their male children,” he said.
Adewole said that his ministry has an adolescent unit where issues concerning girls were addressed. Earlier, the Country Director of Plan International in Nigeria, Dr Hussaini Abdu, said the population of adolescents were increasing with limited targeted policies and programmes to support them. Abdu noted that in Nigeria, millions of adolescent across different parts of the country were left without protection. Some, he added, were forced into marriages and others were subjected to various forms of sexual and gender-based violence.
He explained that the event was to highlight the challenges and project them for national discourse and policy response. According to him, his organization which is in 70 countries, works to respond to challenges of children, particularly girls experienced.